Boundless, the company that builds on existing open educational resources to provide free alternatives to traditionally costly college textbooks, has released 18 open textbooks under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA), the same license used by Wikipedia. Schools, students and the general public are free to share and remix these textbooks under this license. The 18 textbooks cover timeless college subjects, such as accounting, biology, chemistry, sociology, and economics. Boundless reports that students at more than half of US colleges have used its resources, and that they expect its number of users to grow.
Boundless has an entire section explaining open educational resources (OER) and how they use them. However, you can easily see how it works for yourself by browsing one of their textbooks directly. For example, see their textbook on Biology. At the end of each chapter, sources are cited as a list of links where you can find the original material:
This chapter on Organismal Interactions references a Wikipedia article and several articles in The Encyclopedia of Earth. If you follow these links, you will find that the original articles are OER governed by the same CC BY-SA license.
From Boundless’ FAQ,
Is it really free? How does Boundless make money?
Absolutely. Boundless books are 100% free with no expiration dates like textbook rentals or buybacks at the bookstore. It starts with Open Educational Resources. In the future, Boundless will implement some awesome optional premium features on top of this free content to help students study faster and smarter.
As you can see in the screenshot above, Boundless is already rolling out some of those premium features, including flashcards, study guides, and quizzes. To access these features Boundless requires a free user account. The textbooks themselves are completely open, without registration required, and are accessible at boundless.com/textbooks/.
For further reading, we recommend Slate’s article entitled, “Never Pay Sticker Price for a Textbook Again – The open educational resources movement that’s terrifying publishers.” It does a fantastic job of placing the company’s aims in the context of the current publishing ecosystem.3 Comments »
Just in time for Creative Commons’ 10th birthday celebration of its license suite, the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) announced a 3.5 million dollar grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a new program — Integrated Digital English Acceleration (I-DEA) — that will help adult English language learners improve their language skills while simultaneously providing career and college readiness training through technology-based tools and resources.
by blogefl / CC BY
The I-DEA program targets community college learners in the state’s lowest three levels of English as a Second Language courses, and aims to help learners achieve their language goals in tandem with career goals — with fewer hours of instruction than traditional programs that teach basic language skills separately from job-specific skills.
I-DEA derives its dual approach from the state’s I-BEST model (Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training), which U.S. Department of Education Under Secretary Martha Kanter recognized as furthering adult education faster than any other program: “51 percent of I-BEST students completed a certificate in two years, vs. 14 percent of the comparison group…” (Change Magazine of Higher Learning).
A significant part of this grant is that all online learning modules developed will be made available openly under a Creative Commons Attribution license, allowing anyone to access, reuse, translate, and remix the modules as long as attribution is given. I-DEA learning modules will be added to the Open Course Library, Washington State’s collection of high quality CC BY-licensed educational resources for its 82 highest enrolled community college courses.
The grant also includes the creation of new technology tools, laptop computers on loan, Internet access, and online advising and tutoring. From the press release:
Among other goals, college and partner community-based organizations (CBOs) will create open source curriculum and identify best practices of technology-enhanced instruction that allow more students to be served with less in-class instruction. Courses and techniques developed with the grant will be open sourced, allowing colleges and CBOs in Washington and around the world to replicate I-DEA.
This is fantastic news that couldn’t come at a better time. Thank you for this birthday gift to CC! Thanks to the SBCTC for spearheading this initiative and to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for making it possible.
For more details, including a list of the initial 10 colleges to receive and implement the grant, see the press release (pdf).1 Comment »
Last Friday, Open.Michigan helped a group of students get Creative Commons savvy in an offline version of the School of Open’s “Get CC Savvy” challenge, a course originally designed for independent online learners. For those yet unaware, the School of Open is a growing community initiative that will provide educational resources and professional development courses on the meaning and impact of “openness” in the digital age and its benefit to creative endeavors, education, research, and more. Though offline School of Open workshops and activities have been held (see previous School of Open updates), they have primarily focused on creating new courses for the School; Open.Michigan’s Fun Friday session was the first time actual course material was taught in a real world group setting.
Victoria Lungu, student at the University of Michigan’s School of Information, who co-organized and led the session with her Open.Michigan colleagues, writes about how the event went below.
Last Friday I ran a workshop at the University of Michigan where a group of eight worked through the P2PU School of Open challenge “Get CC Savvy.” A year ago or even a few months ago, I would have never imagined taking part in such an exciting opportunity.
So what got me here? Well, to put it simply, a class with Kristin Fontichiaro at the School of Information and her choice to pair me with mentor Emily Puckett Rodgers at Open.Michigan. The class and mentorship were structured to give me the chance to explore my personal interest in open education and informal learning opportunities with a focus on information literacy and teaching.
After a few conversations and brainstorming sessions, Emily and I aimed to try and get the educational potential of the School of Open offline and into a group setting. It was an experiment to see how well an online and physical learning environment could work together.
We had some questions.
- Were the School of Open challenges able to support this kind of learning?
- What benefits would there be to learning something like Creative Commons in this sort of setting?
- How do we record the evidence and learning that is taking place?
We couldn’t answer these questions, or any of the other many questions we had. But we were ready to learn something from this event.
The session drew in participants of all different backgrounds from experts in CC/open licensing at Open.Michigan to students interested in librarianship, information policy, and even a student Wikipedian at the University of Michigan. The informal setting allowed for flexibility and creativity on how the session would evolve. I wanted participants to pick how they wanted to learn as long as they followed two measures of engagement:
- That they created an account with P2PU if they didn’t have one, and
- To comment and engage with the actual challenge and its tasks in the discussion areas.
I asked for participants to abide by these measures to encourage them to preserve evidence of the types of learning and questions that were inspired by the session and to encourage them to (hopefully) explore P2PU and the School of Open more at a later date.
As seen above, and as evidenced in the “Get CC Savvy” challenge discussion fields, eight of us worked together to explore the content, ask questions, post comments, and discuss personal perspectives and experiences relating to Creative Commons. We were even lucky enough to have an audio clip captured (it can be found and listened to in the discussion section of Task 3 in Get CC Savvy) and a fairly immediate response from Jane Park, CC Project Manager and P2PU founding volunteer, to one of the participants questions. The multimedia evidence and outside engagement really enhanced the experience and created a rich environment for learning.
While the hour and a half session allowed for this in-depth exploration of Creative Commons, it also taught us about how group dynamics and other factors impact the takeaways and experience.
- This experience was unique in that it actually had experts in the room, including Open Education Specialist Piet Kleymeer who helped build the challenge. While this won’t always be the case for others who choose to develop workshops like this, it definitely allowed for a more dynamic conversation and avenues of exploration than if there had not been someone to field questions. Even though we were fortunate in this aspect, it makes me question how deeply one might explore content like Creative Commons in an online module without that facilitation.
- Sometimes things built for individual work and short answer don’t always help facilitate a group effort to work through the material. Some of the exercise answers and singular tasks required more front-end effort to structure it into conversations to draw out the participatory aspect of the workshop. While P2PU and School of Open are not necessarily built to support live group workshops as a main source of learning, is there a better way to facilitate this method of learning the challenge content on P2PU?
- Capturing the learning that happens in a group can be hard (especially when working through an online module). Early on, we were so involved in the conversation that we had hardly realized no one had captured the ideas we had discussed. Sometimes a discussion board might capture central ideas or themes but it cannot capture the dialogue and discussion that leads to ideas or encourage further exploration that happens in groups. Some of the best learning occurs in collaborative spaces and it is something that should be preserved and shared when possible.
With all this in mind, would I do it again? Definitely. It is inspiring to participate in a conversation with minds that strive to understand, explore, and challenge ideas, new or mastered. The opportunity to see the group engagement play out before my eyes shows me the meaningfulness of the material and the ability of collaborative thought to spark interest beyond the framework of a challenge– where informal learning really starts to take shape.
Kudos to Victoria and Open.Michigan for piloting this School of Open class! If you’d also like to contribute to building this initiative:
- Visit http://schoolofopen.org. Register for a P2PU account and take or help improve one of the courses listed in various stages of development.
- Join the discussion and introduce yourself and your field of “open” interest: https://groups.google.com/group/school-of-open.
- Create a course. You can create directly on the P2PU platform or use http://pad.p2pu.org for collaborative editing. Just make sure to email the list or the Project Manager (that’s me) with a link to the working draft so we can help.
On October 5, Creative Commons and P2PU convened community advocates and policy leaders from the various “open” movements to lay the curriculum framework for the School of Open. If you haven’t heard of it yet, the School of Open is a community initiative that will provide online educational resources and professional development courses on the meaning and impact of “openness” in the digital age and its benefit to creative endeavors, education, research, and more. Participants gathered the day before for a convening on an Open Policy Institute, which will be blogged about separately in the coming weeks.
The meeting/workshop was extremely valuable in identifying existing needs around education and training on open policy, open education, open access, open science, and open culture. It was also a lot of fun! The full agenda and raw notes are at the etherpad, but here is a brief overview.
First, in pictures:
We broke out into groups and thought long and hard about the one person we’d really like to help as part of the School of Open. Who would actually come to take courses about “open” and what would they want to learn about? What questions would they have? The result was a set of detailed user scenarios spanning from Marcie the researcher working for a legislator to Maggie the wannabe rap star, from academic Professor Lovenchalk with questions about losing control over his work to elementary school teachers with questions about CC and copyright, and even to “optics nerds” on Wikipedia. You can check out all the user scenarios at Flickr. The folder of user scenarios will continue to grow with each workshop.
Based on our user scenarios, we outlined course ideas, potential partners, and existing resources. Course ideas included: Crash course on the basics of open for government officials; How to ensure that my film can be shared; Rights info and tagging for (cultural) curators; How to integrate Wikipedia authorship in your academic workflow; Intro to Open Textbooks; and OER for faculty: what’s in it for me? More courses outlined at the pad.
Everyone was excited for the potential of the School of Open to support existing efforts and demand. And we want you to join us! Whether you’re part of the CC, P2PU, Open Access, OER, free culture, or any other open communities, the School of Open exists to support your education needs. We are aiming for an ambitious (but not impossible!) official launch date of February 2013, with at least five facilitator-led courses and five peer-led courses. Help make this possible by joining in course development efforts!
Where do I start?
- Go to http://schoolofopen.org and get familiar with the project. What course do you want to take or build?
- Join the discussion and introduce yourself and your field of “open” interest: https://groups.google.com/group/school-of-open. See if others are interested in building it with you. Someone might already be developing the course you want to create.
- Register for a P2PU account at http://p2pu.org.
- Start creating! You can create directly on the P2PU platform or use http://pad.p2pu.org for collaborative editing. Just make sure to email the list or the Project Manager (that’s me) with a link to the working draft so we can help.
We will be holding several virtual meetings (eg. webinars) to support course creators, so stay tuned for those!
For those of you who just want to receive key updates and find out when the School of Open officially launches, sign up for our announcements-only list.
The School of Open is being run as an open community project — which means that you can help shape its direction and drive it forward. Find out more about that here.1 Comment »
We’re psyched to be a part of OKFestival: Open Knowledge in Action. The OKFestival takes place September 17-22, 2012 in Helsinki, Finland, and features “a series of hands-on workshops, talks, hackathons, meetings and sprints” exploring a variety of areas including open development, open cultural heritage, and gender and diversity in openness. You can buy tickets to the festival for any number of days until September 16 at http://okfestival.org/early-bird-okfest-tickets/. The OKFestival website has all the details, including the preliminary schedule.
We are particularly interested in and helped to shape the Open Research and Education topic stream, where we are leading an “Open Peer Learning” workshop on Wednesday (Sept 19) from 11:30am to 3:30pm. For the workshop the School of Open (co-led by Creative Commons and P2PU) is combining forces with the OKFN’s School of Data to explore, test and develop learning challenges around open tools and practices in data, research, and education. Participation in the workshop is free (you don’t even have to buy a festival ticket), but space is limited, so RSVP at: http://peerlearningworkshop.eventbrite.com/
The workshop will be held in this awesome space, reserved for four HACK workshops:
For those of you able to come to Helsinki, look out for our CC staff reps, Jessica Coates and Timothy Vollmer, along with many of our European affiliates who will be holding a regional meeting on Day four of the fest.
For the rest of you, you can still participate in helping to build initiatives like the School of Open from wherever you are by visiting http://schoolofopen.org/ and signing up for the mailing lists there.No Comments »
The Open Professionals Education Network (OPEN) – led by Creative Commons – is holding a conference tomorrow for grantees of the $500 million U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program (TAACCCT) program. Grantees will learn how to openly license (under CC BY) all educational materials created under the program so that they may be freely accessed, shared and reused by anyone. CC BY is a requirement of the funding. Grantees will also be shown how to:
- use tools and techniques for improving access to their materials and universal design;
- maximise interoperability, and
- conform to best practice e-learning open standards and specifications.
Grantees will meet other grantees with similar projects for potential collaboration. Collaborating may increase the quality and speed of course development, and free up more time to adapt courses to local needs (for example to major employer needs). Collaboration is also important given many new courses are in emerging industries – such as robotics, mechatronics, health information technology, green construction, green energy and geospatial technologies – where existing materials are not as prevalent and where many projects aim to use innovative teaching tools such as virtual labs.
The conference is fully booked, which indicates strong interest in learning the best ways to enable open education practices.
OPEN includes Creative Commons, Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative, CAST, and the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. It has been funded by the The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to provide free support to grantees to help them meet grant requirements. For more information on OPEN see http://open4us.org.
The TAACCCT program supports President Obama’s goal of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020 by helping to increase the number of workers who attain degrees, certificates, and other industry-recognized credentials. Openly licensing the materials created under this program may create a multiplier benefit to course content and development nationwide. Benefits may include: accelerated course development and learning, improved pedagogies and retention, and broader access for citizens regardless of their location and wealth. Open licensing optimizes the impact of taxpayer funds spent on the TAACCCT grants.No Comments »
The Saylor Foundation provides global grants of US $20,000 to college textbook authors seeking to openly license their educational textbooks for use in free Saylor college-level courses. Authors maintain their copyright and license textbooks to the world via Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) to enable maximum reuse, remix, and redistribution. To learn more and apply, visit Saylor’s Open Textbook Challenge page for more details.
In addition to providing grants for existing textbooks, the Saylor Foundation has announced a new option to award authors seeking to create open textbooks that will be CC BY licensed. Academics who are interested in creating a textbook can submit a brief statement about the proposed text and the relevant eligible Saylor course, and if successful they will receive a Request for Proposal from the Saylor Foundation (more details at the Open Textbook Development page). As a result of this new option and because preparing new texts is a lengthy process, the Saylor Foundation has decided to accept both textbook submissions and proposals for textbook development on an ongoing basis. The initiative has recently received funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Saylor Foundation expects to award millions of dollars for open textbooks under CC BY.
The cost of education is spiraling, for example the average amount that a U.S. college student spends on textbooks is almost US $1,200 per year. Textbook costs may represent up to seventy-five percent of a Californian community college education, and education affordability is frequently cited as a reason for course dropouts (pdf). The Saylor Foundation tackles this issue by providing free, college-level curricula worldwide via Saylor.org. Their Open Textbook Challenge aims to alleviate cost pressures by encouraging textbook authors to openly license their textbooks with CC BY so that students may use them for free.4 Comments »
This year the Content in Context conference (organized by the Association of Education Publishers and the Association of American Publishers School Division) will host a free Metadata Lab centered around educational metadata adoption.
The main highlights of the lab:
- Education data standards overview with Jack Buckley (NCES/CEDS), Ross Santy (US DOE), and Michael Jay (Educational Systemics)
- LRMI info session
- Group discussions
- One-on-one meetings
Of particular interest is the LRMI session, which will include
- A project update by Greg Grossmeier (Creative Commons)
- A discussion led by Brandt Redd (Gates Foundation) about LRMI in relation to other initiatives like the Shared Learning Collaborative and Learning Registry
- A demo of LRMI proof of concept by Mark Luetzelschwab (Agilix Labs)
Again, attendance is free but please register by contacting Dave Gladney (dgladney@AEPweb.org).No Comments »
Update October 2012: We’ve removed the links to the Google Form and spreadsheet below. Please visit the OER Policy Registry’s permanent home at http://oerpolicies.org.
The open community shares a need for more information to help us with our work. We know, for example, that there are many policies supporting open education at institutions and governments throughout the world. Many of us know of some of these policies, but it would be extremely helpful if we had a single database of open education policies that the entire community could access and update.
To meet this goal, Creative Commons has received a small grant to create an “OER Policy Registry.” The Open Educational Resources (OER) Policy Registry will be a place for policymakers and open advocates to easily share and update OER legislation, OER institutional policies and supporting OER policy resources. We have begun to enter OER policies into the registry, but we need your help to make it a truly useful global resource.
The open movement is reaching a stage where we’ve had some real, concrete OER policy victories and there is the potential to achieve many more. Sharing our collective knowledge of existing OER policies, in the same way we believe in sharing educational resources, will help advocates and policymakers worldwide be more successful.
Please join the effort:
(1) Contribute any OER policies you know about via this Google form.
- We are collecting both legislative AND institutional (non-legislative) OER policies from around the world. Your form submissions will be added to the draft list of OER policies.
(2) Review the draft list of OER policies. (Google doc)
- If any entries need to be fixed, please email us at email@example.com.
(3) Pass on this call to your colleagues, lists, blogs, and other channels, to ensure that we get as much input as possible. As the OER movement is global, it is critical that we capture OER policies from around the world.
Anyone can add OER policies to the Google form through the next month. Beginning May 1, the OER Policy Registry will move to the Creative Commons wiki. At that point, anyone will be able to edit and update the OER Policy Registry on the wiki, and all contributions will be licensed under CC BY.
We’re starting with a Google form because (a) it’s easy and (b) wikis require you to create an account before editing, and that may be a barrier to participation.
CC is in contact with other projects that collect similar information, including UNESCO, CoL, the Florida Distance Learning Consortium, EU OCW and a project in New Zealand. We will add OER policy data they gather as it becomes available. If anyone knows of other efforts to gather OER policies, please send them to Anna Daniel (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we will reach out to them too.
If you have any suggestions or feedback on the content and/or framework, please let us know.No Comments »
In other news: